By Kim Loan – Translated by Kim Khanh
Rural sociology graduate programs
Renowned Vietnamese Mai Trung Thu drew a portrait of his lover in 1930 and nearly 100 years later, it raised record auction proceeds of a Vietnamese painting, with US$3.1 million.
The oil painting entitled ‘Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong’ created by painter Nguyen Trung Thu (1906 – 1980) in 1930 has fetched US$3,1 million at the auction ‘Beyond Legends: Modern Art Evening Sale’ that took place on April 18 by Sotheby’s Hong Kong.
|Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong. Photo: Sotheby’s Hong Kong|
The oil-in-canvas painting, whose size is 135,5 x 80 centimeters, has broken the record of Le Pho’s ‘Nue’ (Nude), which fetched $1.4 million in 2019 at an auction by Sotheby’s.
The painting was initially offered at between $900,000 and $1.2 million, then gradually increased to $2,5 million, and eventually sold for $3,1 million.
Mai Trung Thu’s ‘Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong established a new canon of Vietnamese art, elevating traditional crafts and mediums to modern forms of expression.
Painted in 1930, Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong stands as one of the most significant works by the artist to ever appear at auction – an extremely rare oil painting which was one of the few pieces selected for the 1931 Exposition Coloniale Internationale in Paris, and was featured in the iconic 1993 film The Scent of Green Papaya (L’Odeur de la papaye verte).
|Vietnamese renown Mai Trung Thu (1906 – 1980). Documentary photo.|
Portrait of Mademoiselle Phuong is part of a collection which also includes masterpieces by Vu Cao Dam and Pham Hau, each presenting an alluring mélange of French, Vietnamese and Chinese influences as well as nostalgia for Vietnam. The late Mrs. Dothi Dumonteil and her husband, Pierre Dumonteil acquired these works after Mrs. Dumonteil migrated to France as a child and established her career as a couture model for Yves Saint Laurant and co-founder of Galerie Dumonteil.
In recent years, the Vietnamese fine art market has been in the spotlight with paintings commanding higher prices and a growing number of talented artists emerging on the global stage.
Since the country opened its economy in 1986, artworks by Vietnamese artists had begun to attract an international audience and Sotheby’s has played an instrumental role in increasing recognition to some of the nation’s greatest artists.
In 2020, performance of works by Vietnamese artists was particularly exceptional at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, with Mai Trung Thu’s auction record being set consecutively in the Spring and Autumn sales, and works by many other artists sold for prices well above their pre-sale estimates.
|The tea time by Mai Trung Thu. Photo: Sotheby’s Hong Kong|
Being among the first graduates of the École des Beaux-Arts de ‘Indochine (Vietnam University of Fine Arts) in Hanoi, Thu was a painter whose oeuvre celebrated the innocence of rural Vietnam.
His participation in the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1937 led him to settle down in France.
Despite staying there for most of his life, Thu continued a deep sense of love for his homeland, painting tender images of Vietnamese women, children and idealized landscapes.
In contrast to other silk painters, Thu often used bold colours to illustrate traditional garments and paraphernalia, culminating in vibrant scenes of peaceful nostalgia.
During the day, the participants had a chance to get access to a number of books, exchange with speakers and representatives from publishers, ambassadors of reading culture. They shared knowledge and skills on building reading culture and experience in acquiring more knowledge from books.
They also competed in a speaking contest “Meaningful book-key for future” and played games based on knowledge of books and enjoyed other interesting activities.
Speaking at the event, Nguyen Tuong Lam, Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee and Permanent Deputy Head of the Vietnam Youth Federation Central Committee, said that the event included a series of programs with such highlights as debut of book-reading clubs, exchanges with speakers and authors, book discussions and book exchange.
“Via these programs, we hope youths will have a habit of reading books. Reading books is very beneficial as it can help them acquire more knowledge and skills, foster their dreams and goals of life, and strive for a better future. With basic knowledge and skills, they can feel confident in life,” Lam said.
At the festive day, the organizers handed over a friendly reading space, worth VND 50 million, to the aforementioned school, and ten scholarships, each worth VND 10 million, to disadvantaged ethnic minority students with good academic records.
Translated by Mai Huong
The UniSmartItaly workshops, looking into study and work opportunities in Italy, are held virtually from April 16 to 24 by the Italian Rectors’ Conference and the Italian Trade Agency with the support of the Italian Embassy in Vietnam and the Uni-Italia Association.
In her remarks, Ambassador Hue thanked workshop organizers for choosing Vietnam as the first country to carry out this program, noting that although the number of Vietnamese students in Italy remains modest, it has been growing fast in recent years.
Italy is an increasingly popular destination for Vietnamese students as it has a high-quality tertiary education system that provides training in the majors that can help deal with global challenges related to development, the environment, and technology and thus, meeting Vietnam’s demand.
Many Vietnamese students returning from Italy have greatly helped with national development and the two countries relations, she said.
Besides, she added, bilateral trade has topped 5 billion USD, and more than 4,000 Italian businesses are cooperating with Vietnamese partners in export and import, which are favorable conditions to create more study and work chances for Vietnamese students in Italy.
Hue suggested Italy promote students’ participation in and contributions to economic events between the two countries and invite postgraduates to engage in bilateral research projects, especially those in scientific research cooperation programs.
She also recommended the two sides set up a channel for linking Italian employers with Vietnamese students and postgraduates in the country and sign an agreement on mutual recognition of each other’s certificates so as to facilitate the student exchange.
Vu Thi Bich Diep, deputy head of the Vietnamese Students Association in Italy, said Vietnamese students are confident in the development of bilateral ties across the board, which will further facilitate their efforts to study and find jobs in the European nation.
* Strong winds and high waves lashed the eastern Philippines on Monday as the strongest typhoon ever recorded in April barrelled past in the Pacific Ocean, killing one man and triggering flooding in lower-lying communities, disaster officials said.
* The Russian Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it is expelling 20 staffers of the Czech embassy in Moscow in response to the expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats from the Czech Republic.
* Nearly 192.13 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across China as of Sunday, the National Health Commission said Monday. The Chinese mainland on Sunday reported 11 new imported COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 90,510, according to the commission.
* The COVID-19 vaccination program in Laos is underway and the majority of people in target areas have had their first dose of the vaccine. The Lao government plans to vaccinate at least 150,000 people in the initial stages of the program.
* Cambodia on Monday predicted that international tourist arrivals to the kingdom this year would decline by another 70 percent due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19. The report of the Ministry of Tourism said the Southeast Asian country received 1.31 million international tourists in 2020, down 80 percent from 6.61 million in 2019.
* Malaysia started phase 2 of its national immunization program against COVID-19 on Monday, expanding to other high risk groups following the vaccination of the country’s frontliners.
* The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 4,952 within one day to 1,609,300, with the death toll adding by 143 to 43,567, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
* Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll on Sunday reached 373,335 after registering another 1,657 fatalities, the country’s ministry of health reported. According to the ministry, another 42,980 cases were registered, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 13,943,071.
* Just more than half of US adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Sunday, with nearly 130 million people aged 18 years or more having received their first shot.
* The European Union has exercised an option to acquire an additional 100 million doses of BioNTech and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the two companies said.
* Denmark’s health authority said it may be possible for people to choose to have the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine if they wish, Ritzau news agency reported.
* The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units in France edged up on Sunday, amid a nationwide lockdown to try to stem a third wave of infections.
* British scientists launched a trial which will deliberately expose participants who have already had COVID-19 to the coronavirus again to examine immune responses and see if people get reinfected.
* Canada will present a budget with billions of dollars for pandemic recovery measures as COVID-19 infections skyrocket, CAD2 billion (US$1.6 billion) toward national childcare, and new taxes on luxury goods.
* The number of people heading out to shops across Britain jumped 87.8% in the week to April 17 versus the previous week as non-essential stores in England reopened after three months of COVID-19 lockdown, market researcher Springboard said.
* Spain will study the effects of mixing different coronavirus vaccines, government researchers said on Monday, responding to shifting guidelines on the safety of the AstraZeneca’s shot.
* Poland may be able to open up a significant part of the economy at the end of May or beginning of June, depending on progress with COVID-19 vaccinations, the prime minister said on Monday.
* NASA successfully launched its Mars helicopter Ingenuity from the surface of the Red Planet earlier on Monday, marking the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.
* The coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa can break through the protection provided by Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study in Israel found.
* Vaccination against COVID-19 is a requirement to perform the Umra pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi state TV said on Sunday, citing a government official.
In order to take advantage of FTAs and increase the Vietnamese rice export market share at more competitive prices, the Ministry of Industry and Trade will continue to co-ordinate with ministries, branches and the Viet Nam Food Association to help businesses effectively implement the deals and make the most of markets such as South Korea and the EU.
The ministry would implement solutions on mechanisms and policies to remove technical and trade barriers, internalise international commitments, customs procedures, logistics and credit as well as building and developing brands to create a premise for rice export enterprises to exploit the markets, said Tran Quoc Toan, deputy director of the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
For rice exporters as well as farmers, Toan noted the need to be more proactive in improving the competitiveness of products through quality and price as well as building and protecting trade to diversify markets towards sustainable exports.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported the volume of rice exported reached 450,000 tonnes with a value of US$246 million last month.
The cumulative amount of rice exported in the first three months of this year rose 1.1 million tonnes, while the value hit $606 million, down 30.4 per cent in volume and 17.4 per cent in value over the same period last year.
Nguyen Van Don, director of Viet Hung Co., Ltd in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tien Giang, said that the reason for the decline in rice exports was partly as the first quarter of this year coincided with the Lunar New Year holiday.
In addition, the first two months of the year were between-crop periods when the rice supply was limited while the price was high, so it was difficult for businesses to negotiate export contracts.
Although the company’s rice export volume declined by more than 30 per cent over the same period for the first three months of the year, the export rice price rose by about 20 per cent. The two largest import markets are still the Philippines and China.
Meanwhile, Pham Thai Binh, general director of Trung An High-Tech Farming JSC in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta city of Can Tho, said that the first quarter’s rice export dropped significantly in volume due to a shortage of empty containers and soaring freight rates.
“Customers still need to import, but enterprises cannot order containers to pack their goods, the shortage of empty containers has pushed freight rates up 600-700 per cent, from $1,000 to $6,000-7,000 per container. With this rate, not only rice exporters but also other firms are facing difficulties. This situation means the importer had to consider delaying the time of receiving the goods or looking for closer sources to reduce costs,” said Binh.
Commenting on this issue, Toan said that although the amount of rice exported in the first quarter of this year declined compared to the same period last year, the price of rice for export grew due to high demand for food reserves around the world, which has pushed up the general level of world rice prices.
Thai and Indian rice prices have also hit record highs in recent years.
Viet Nam’s rice price continued to remain at a high level of $547 per tonne by the end of the first quarter of this year, up 18.6 per cent, equivalent to an increase of $86 per ton compared to the same period last year. The current price of rice has been and is benefiting the rice farmers.
Vietnamese rice was being purchased by importers at high prices due to the improved quality of Vietnamese rice, said Toan.
Vietnamese rice exporters were increasingly focusing on improving quality and traceability to meet the strict standards of export markets such as the EU, South Korea, and the US, Toan said.
In addition, Viet Nam has entered into many trade agreements with many strategic countries and regions such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and more recently the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the UK-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA). — VNS